Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) received a welcome and significant donation last week from a community partner, Greenwich-based Mothers for Others (MFO). Karen Gianuzzi and Cathy DeGraaff, both Mother for Others Board Members, delivered more than 3,000 diapers to CLC’s Early Head Start location at 72 Franklin Street in Stamford.
CLC has been a leader in developing and implementing high quality and affordable early childhood education and care programs since 1902. All of the nonprofit agency’s eight locations are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or approved by Federal Head Start.
While CLC’s programs are currently closed with the exception of a small program for children of healthcare workers, CLC staff is working remotely to provide support and connect families in need to resources. Marsha Guthrie, CLC’s Director of Head Start and Early Head Start, has coordinated two diaper and food distributions for families since the closing thanks to donations from Mothers for Others and Filling in the Blanks, a nonprofit that provides weekly food kits to families when the program is open.
CLC is appreciative of the invaluable ongoing support from MFO. “The need for diapers not only causes financial stress for families, but it can be a very emotional strain as well. We are extremely grateful for this relationship, which has been supplying our families with a quarterly distribution of diapers. Adding this large donation in a time of great need will go a long way,” explained Guthrie.
The relationship between Children’s Learning Centers and Mothers for Others began in 2018 facilitated by CLC Chief Executive Officer Marc Jaffe and has evolved over the past two years to now include quarterly diaper drop-offs to CLC, typically in March, June, September, and December. “We know that it is going to become more and more challenging for our families to access essentials like diapers,” said Jaffe. “We are grateful that even during the most difficult times, we can rely on community partners like Mothers for Others to lean in and lend their support to vulnerable families proactively.”
The additional donation will ensure that the CLC families receive uninterrupted resources. “Mothers for Others is not currently open but feel strongly that we need to support financially challenged families. The number of families needing diapers is only going to increase,” said Cathy DeGraaff, who also serves as the organization’s Community Outreach Coordinator. “More families are struggling through job loss, and the need is increasing.”
Mothers for Others, currently under the leadership of Executive Director Lisa Fisher, supports the well-being of underserved families by providing diapers and baby equipment for children from birth to 3 years old. In 2019, Mothers for Others distributed over 63,000 diapers to 357 children through their donation room and community partnerships, representing an increase of 38% more diapers versus 2018.
Karen Gianuzzi, Founder of Mothers for Others and who also serves on the Board of Directors for CLC, explained “as a diaper bank for lower Fairfield County, since its inception in 2011, Mothers for Others has always relied on social service organizations to help identify families in need of assistance. But now, with many of those agencies closed, MFO relies more on organizations like CLC that are still able to reach the families in need of help.”
The relationship between CLC and MFO is highly valued by both organizations. “It is more than a partnership,” explained DeGraaff. “Last year, CLC received an extraordinary book donation, and Jennifer Hallissey, Director of Strategic Partnerships for CLC, contacted me to see if we would be interested in these books for our clients. That reciprocity perfectly represents our partnership and illustrates how we are working collectively. We are stronger together. This needs to be emphasized even more so now given the anxiety and worry that has been created by the pandemic,” commented DeGraaff.
“We are all reimagining how we can continue to come together to help the families who are at risk,” stated DeGraaff